Thursday 24 October 2002

The illusion of knowing oneself quite well

Jeff Ward:

Blogrolls are an interesting twist on the problem. Mine has been fairly stable for a long while now, and I get the illusion that I know some of these people quite well. I like the feeling. I like anticipating what I might find on their sites next. I like getting to know people. Due to the intense nature of my place in life right now, I don’t say thank-you often enough to those people that I read every day. Though we haven’t been properly introduced, I’ve been following the stories long enough to feel like I know what’s going on. I count on all these people to take me outside myself, in these times that I must focus on my own personal projects.

I like the feeling too. It’s anchored me during a period when I felt I might be swept away by events both far away and close to home. Nor do I say thank-you often enough to those with whom I feel such a strong, deep connection. I’d love to go back to mid-January, when I started this weblog, and to retrace the steps by which I stumbled upon and was welcomed in to this community.

Like Jeff, I get the illusion that I know some of you quite well. Equally, as a consequence of writing to and with and about you, I get the illusion that I know myself rather better. Krista, a friend of Jeff’s, said to him: “I don’t think you realize just how much its possible to learn about you from your site.” Again, it cuts both ways. We learn about ourselves and each other, simultaneously.

I guess what I’m saying (it’s late and I should be in bed) is that I’m grateful for the opportunities to try different kinds of writing, to make mistakes and live with the consequences, to have my idiosyncracies accepted (or politely ignored), to be exposed to so many gifted individuals, and to have so many wonderful models of writing and behavior. So thanks, everyone.

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and thank you for sharing that journey with us. I feel blessed to live in a time when we can share ourselves with people so far away, and be given the gift of themselves at the same time.

Posted by elaine on 25 October 2002 (Comment Permalink)

There's a downside to this, and that's the illusion part. The kind of knowing that's possible via words and only words is a rather limited--valuable, perhaps beautiful, but limited.

In the last year I've formed a bunch of what I think of as "web friendships." Most of these people I've never met, nor ever will meet. And strangely I feel a greater kinship with some of them than I do with my, um, offline (flesh and blood?) friends. Maybe I'm being some kind of reactionary, but I find this unsettling. I mean, what does one do with one's web friends? One sends emails back and forth.

I realize I've ventured off topic, because neither Jeff nor Jonathan were talking about friendship; they were talking about personal websites and how one begins to feel that one "knows" these people, and what's cool about that. I wouldn't argue that it's not cool; I'm just suspicious of this very narrow way of knowing.

It's a very characteristic thought of mine, which anyone who reads my website knows.

Posted by Michael on 25 October 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Well, I too suspect that this is a different way of knowing people. In some ways, though, it seems to bridge the gap between knowing people through books (through authors) and knowing people in "real life," where you often find in the middle of a crisis that you actually know very little about them.

I've found this whole blogging experience strangely fulfilling, more so than I would have ever guessed before I started it.

On other hand, I've always felt that I learned more about myself from reading the works of others than I have from my daily experience, where too often the "task" dominates the relationship and where there is little sharing of "ideas," per se.

Posted by Loren on 25 October 2002 (Comment Permalink)

What's an idiosyncracy or two between friends?

At times I'm not sure how real is our knowledge of each other. The 'realness' seems to thin and thicken at odd times. But the writing's real enough, and most times, that's enough.

Posted by Burningbird on 25 October 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Do you think I could have thrown a few more "times" into that last comment?

Now, Jonathon, what was it you said about the writing?

Posted by Burningbird on 25 October 2002 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour